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Lesson in visual literacy

April 18, 2012
by

Warning: more disturbing images ahead.

Remember from yesterday’s lecture the slide of the U.S. soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu — and how that shocked Americans to action? Well, we know U.S.-Afghan relations are bad. So images of U.S. troops posing with body parts of Afghan corpses won’t help that but may shock Afghans to further action.

From latimes.com this morning: “An American soldier says he released the photos to the Los Angeles Times to draw attention to the safety risk of a breakdown in leadership and discipline. The Army has started a criminal investigation.”

Of course, military officials tried to prevent the Times from publishing the pictures.

Times Editor Davan Maharaj said:

“After careful consideration, we decided that publishing a small but representative selection of the photos would fulfill our obligation to readers to report vigorously and impartially on all aspects of the American mission in Afghanistan, including the allegation that the images reflect a breakdown in unit discipline that was endangering U.S. troops.”

View these images at the risk of increasing your own visual literacy about the news of how the U.S. conducts war.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Geoffrey Stephens permalink
    April 18, 2012 12:00 pm

    We as individual people, communities/cities, a society, and a country need to grow the f*ck up. I feel as though maybe everyone needs to see a mass screening of the old children’s classics like Pinocchio to remind us of what our morals and actions really do…even if the issues are not right on our street.
    We take in news & pictures of the REAL reality of things that happen around us like a scared child being told that Santa Clause isn’t real. So much is sugar coated to keep us tame and marching like ants, while things that these pictures and the ones we saw yesterday depict things that go on ALL OF THE TIME. But being so doped on the sugar coating, and then seeing this stuff we cry and say how “crazy” it is…but at the same time it’s what WE are funding and supporting. Whether having a big Army bumper sticker, or simply an American Flag one…your supporting the things in these pics. It’s almost reverse psychology.
    Well here’s what to do people…GET OVER IT, PUT ON YOUR BIG BOY PANTS AND STOP LYING TO YOURSELF…OR THE NOSE KEEPS GROWING JUST LIKE PINOCCHIO. This is life, and it ain’t all pretty. And believe it or not, people take pretty extreme measures to have what they like. To not know or want to actually see such extremes is to be naive to reality, and when I saw reality I don’t mean a punk ass TV show.
    When seeing pictures like these and it makes you feel bad, or your stomach turns…imagine what the people in these pictures felt. The soldiers or people torn apart or jumping from buildings stomach wasn’t feeling too good either. Seeing things like this may be rough at first, but it opens the doors to understanding so much more. If we ALL see more soldiers drug thru more streets, maybe just maybe we would begin conserving how much we drive and buy gas so that soldier dragging could stop. Instead we turn a deaf ear and PRETEND just like we did with our toys at age 6. A few steps to take towards becoming a big boy or girl…

    1) People kill each other for money and power everyday, realize that. If you don’t think so look up stats or through history. Money controls people so much that they become ok with making the situations we see in these pictures happen.

    2) Ask yourself the “hard” questions…..When “crying” about seeing a pic of a dead US soldier, ask yourself what you think that our military has been doing over seas in the middle east FOR OVER 5 YEARS. Quick clues for you kids: it’s not playing patty cake or hopscotch, and when soldiers from two different sides come across each other they don’t chat about the weather.

    3)Once gripping that it’s not all fun and games, even thought that’s often how is is put to or perceived by us, realize the role YOU play in this. Journalism and Photo Journalism is one of the FEW things left to keep us from completely being suckered into doing what a select few want. Like the Army launching a criminal investigation on the soldier that gave these pics, if things like this aren’t known or DEMANDED by the public they go on. Then if we think that dictators and other countries got is so bad, just wait. Our news and knowledge of things will be just as scripted and written out as Jersey Shore.

    Kick the training wheels off of your bicycle and grow up. If you still disagree and want to hang onto your pacifier I’ve got to things for you to read up on…

    1) The Romans ideas of “BEER & CIRCUS”
    2) How Adolf Hitler came to power, and what everyday “middle class” German people were told and what understanding they were provided of the Holocaust.

  2. Bob Reinhard permalink
    June 24, 2012 12:11 am

    Gregory, have you ever considered studying Philosophy? You would be good at it. In the late sixties Dan Rather (recall him from Thursday’s class) took a camera crew into Viet Nam. This was America’s first live views of combat. The nation was stunned. They could not handle the ferocity of the Viet Cong. This resulted in Soldiers returning home being called “Babykillers”. Today, the pendulum has swung to the other side of the extrime. You may object to the war if you wish, but no one is willing to make any statement against the American soldier.
    I respectfully disagree. I do not feel that this piece is about accepting the grave nature of war. It is about maintaining discipline. A few years ago, a video was discovered about a soldier throwing a small puppy off a cliff and laughing about it. That soldier was drummed out of the marine corps. This is about maintaining a proper code of conduct. Yes, it is the duty of a soldier to kill. It is not the duty of a soldier to play with dead bodies, if only for the unhealthy nature of it. Besides, if we antagonize the ‘rag heads’, it will swell the ranks of the extremists who oppose us.

  3. June 27, 2012 5:30 pm

    I think it’s great how the Times, even under pressure from the US Military, still posted the images that were so controversial. I even think it was respectful of the Times to compromise in a way by only posting the least disturbing of the images. It shows that journalist can be honest with the public without completely pissing off every government adjacency.

    Some people may be upset with the Times not showing the worst of the images and in a way those people are right. The public is untitled to knowing the whole truth about events that happen in the government. This is doubly true when it comes to the military. Military issues require careful handling from both sides, journalists and the government.

    That is, however, the purpose of the news covering things like this. It is needed to keep the government in check and stop them from doing horrible and outlandish things.

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